I herded kids into bed the other night with aggravated enthusiasm. I had too much to do.
"Hurry up. I don't have time for this. I have a thing tomorrow."
"What kind of thing?"
"A thing. A speaking thing. I have to go talk."
"Are they paying you to talk? That's good for you, since you like to talk."
"Well, I get paid anyway. From my job. But people are driving from out of town to hear me talk. And unlike YOU yahoos, they'll probably listen to me."
"OMIGOSH. You're like...like...that's so cool."
"Go to BED."
I'll spare you the gory details about my job and whatnot because this is kind of a job-free zone. But I did have to give my listeners some background about myself and some sense of how I might have ended up where I was. It was also a group of all women*, and being a lady-type-person myself, I like to never pass on an opportunity to remind other women that they should always grab life by the balls.
*If there had been a man in the room, I would have equally believed he should go grab life by the balls. I am equal opportunity that way.
So I started with a question of this room full of women who carried in their various purses at least one same credential as me:
"Does everybody have one drunk uncle?"
I knew from the mix of those that laughed and those that didn't what I was getting myself into. I told my story anyway.
Drunk Uncle, in my case, sloshed up to me about seven drinks in at my high school graduation to ask what I wanted to do with my life.
This was really the first time I remember anyone posing it in that way - so open ended - instead of inserting their opinion on one end or the other. I didn't hesitate to answer him.
"I want to be that person with the video camera that follows the guy around, you know, the guy who is putting a new roof on his house with his butt crack hanging out, the guy that's on workman's comp? I want to be THAT person."
"PPPPPPPFFFFTT," he slobbered at me. "There's no money in that. Get a REAL job. I'll put in a good word for you at the mill."
AT. THE. MILL.
You know, because in this mill town, if "the mill" is nice enough to extend you a job offer, you take it and you are thankful for that opportunity to have a giant pile of money in exchange for your life span to be cut short and quality of life to be zilch. It's a great deal. Ask anyone who's sold their soul to the company store. And so I did. Not immediately, but still. When I did, they had 1,500 applicants. 130 interviews. 13 people were hired. I was one of them. I believe this says their Human Resources sucked ass at the time.*
*I say this because I personally know at least one person in Human Resources at present and I do not believe that she sucks ass. I also believe strides have been made to select candidates more befitting that work than I ever was. I also believe they have made strides to actually enforce their own workplace violence policy, which used to also suck ass, and which is what initially motivated me to leave. I did not wish to die and become a piece of your milk carton.
I let Drunk Uncle pour his drink over that fire in my belly in an instant. I forgot all about what I really wanted to do. What I - as a SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL - had a glimmer and a drive to want to pursue. And it would be years and years before I would be like:
NO. I'm better than this. I like solving puzzles. I like getting to the bottom of things. I like discovering the truth and calling people out on their hijinks and shenanigans (which are different). I like standing up for and protecting people who can't do it for themselves.
And I reignited that fire by myself. And when I did, the light was bright enough to find the rest of my tribe by.
I hoped these ladies wouldn't let THEIR Drunk Uncle or whatever lingering voice was in their heads keep them from maybe doing something even more awesome than they were already doing.
I continued the rest of my talk with the room staring at me, stunned at my lack of any Power Point presentation (I don't like to depend too heavily on technology - what happens when the power goes out and you don't have anything to talk about??) and talked about a lot of very boring and very shocking and scandalous things and included a quite very maybe inappropriate amount of me just pointing to various parts of my body, including my armpit, and sloping toward fan girl obsession with colonoscopies*.
*Spellcheck is certain the word I'm looking for here is kaleidoscopes.
I am certain it is not.
All throughout, my trusty sidekick held door duty and her composure, most likely outlining her resignation in her head and counting down the days until she could distance herself from my theatrics, hoping to blend into the wall and have nobody associate her with me.
Just kidding. She's a big weirdo just like me.
And I woke up today to a "Thank You" email and not a "Your membership has been revoked effective immediately" email, so I'm going to take that as a sign that things were received positively. Either way, everyone got their CEUs and I still get to do what I should have been doing all along, even though I spend most of my days wanting to put my head straight through a wall.